Saturday, September 14, 2013

Julia's Empanadas Food Review

"Made by hand." "Baked with love." It's the writing on the wall front door of Julia's Empanadas, just south of Dupont Circle. It's been around forever, but never on my radar. When I think empanada, my mind automatically races to the frozen food section at Giant... where Goya products often dot the aisle. Not that I haven't had good ones before (I have) but I wasn't optimistic. Did Julia's change my mind? As they say in Portugal, unofficial home to the empanada... não (no.)

You definitely taste the love in Julia's bread; but man can't live by bread alone. For starters, the tiny space where you order hardly qualifies as appetizing: I prefer to call it "gross." Some may call it "charming," or "characteristic," but "dirty" seems more accurate. It's a two-man crew (one pulls your order, the other rings you up.) They move fast, which is good; but would it hurt to offer up a kind word (like "hello") or (shudder) a smile? Good luck finding that here.

Jamaican Style Empanada

For just under six bucks, I ordered a Good Meal Deal (one Empanada, one Fruit Empanada and a fountain drink.) Since there's no room to eat inside, all orders are to go. I took mine back to work, and was happy to discover there weren't any "grease stains" in either the bag or the wraps: That's a good start. Sadly, it went down hill from there. My Jamaican Style entree (normally $3.59 each) advertised with "ground and chopped beef, onion, potato, curry, and other spices" was a gooey, tasteless paste. All you could taste was the bread, and the interior looked like "waste." Who eats stuff like this?

Apple Fruit Empanada

As luck would have it, I wasn't done yet: Dessert (normally $2.10 each) was still to be had... an apple-filled version with a dusting of powdered sugar. Cold as ice, and once again way too doughy, I was hard pressed to finish more than two bites. Perhaps if it were hot? And filled (there was hardly any filling in either one.) Toss in an over-iced fountain drink, and you have a recipe for disaster. I'm guessing they taste better at 1:00 AM after a few drinks.